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Old 02-02-2020, 03:50 PM   #1
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What size bus would you get?

Bare bones information.

I have five kids. It will be just me for awhile but eventually my husband will join us. So seven people will be living in the bus, we are fulltime.

I do not want to tow anything, and since it will be just me and kids for a while, the bus also has to be my daily driver.

I want to be able to not only explore state and nation parks, but park in kids parks, and zoos, and kids museums, and stores and the like. I don't want to be super limited on where we can go as far as cities go. I don't mind parking a little away and walking though.

I plan on doing a great deal of boondocking on public lands.

If space is too limited I will put kids in hammocks.

We will likely upgrade to a 40' later once my husband is with us all the time and he can drive a second car. For now I worry how much that will limit what I can do in cities. Edited to add: by limiting cities, I'm not super concerned about the driving in cities park. More about the parking in cities where kids activities would be.

I've played with ideas from 5 window buses all the way to I wonder if I could make a 40' work after all.

So given the known factors, what size bus would you get? (if possible, please say by window length. lol I'm familiar with those for size).

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Old 02-02-2020, 04:00 PM   #2
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I can't give guidance on whether it would be enough room for you and 5 kids but I'm happy with my 6 window bus. (25 feet bumper to bumper) Fits in *most * parking spots and is very easy to drive even in the middle of the city. It actually was used for city routes.
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:17 PM   #3
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Can you tell me how much room is in the back from behind the drivers seat to the back wall? I've been thinking about a 6 window. With two couches that turn into beds for me and husband when he joins us, and having the kids hang on hammocks otherwise so the rest of the bus can be usable space.
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:24 PM   #4
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16 feet Screenshot_20200202-142400_Photos.jpg
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:31 PM   #5
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This is amazing and super helpful. Thank you!!!
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:01 PM   #6
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Wow, where did you acquire that? I would have loved a blueprint like that for my bus.
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:40 PM   #7
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How long before your husband joins you?
If it's not too long, maybe you should consider a full sized bus. A couple of rainy days and you may have to contend with some serious "cabin fever".
When I did my first bus, my kids were 6, 8 and 10, we had 4 bunks, and a queen in back, dinette, 1/2 bath, maybe 5' of kitchen counter and seats from a conversion van near the front...it worked fine but we weren't full timers. The kids could get some separation if desired
When in town (small town), the bus required 2 parking spaces that we could pull into, so sometimes, we circled the block a few times.
Another thought would be to consider a flat nosed bus...perhaps you'd get more living space while keeping the overall length more manageable. I've never had one, always preferred the standard tilt front end configuration for ease of maintenance.
Good luck, looks like you aren't afraid of some adventure.
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:07 PM   #8
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It all depends on him finding a remote job, he's been looking for over a year. He could get one next week, or in a year or two. We've been fulltime since last May and we live in a 32 foot trailer in Oregon. The cabin fever is rampant at the moment. That's actually a big reason we are taking off without my husband. I'm excited for adventure. I've wanted to do this for years. We finally went fulltime, but then got stuck stationary. The kids and I are ready to go. lol

What size was your first bus?
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:07 PM   #9
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My first bus was a 11 window Ward. (International chassis)I don't recall what year it was...early 80's I think. I've been looking through old vacation photos, so far only 2 have that bus in them....eventually I'll find more.
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:58 AM   #10
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If you already have a 32' trailer why not just hitch up and take off?


I think with that many kids a short to medium length bus is going to be a problem for you. Just imagine if you will an interior space half the size of your current trailer. It is going to get really small really quick with everyone on top of each other continuously.



A bedroom for you and two bunks on each side of a center aisle is going to take up a minimum of 12'. A bathroom with a shower an additional 4' or more. A kitchen and eating area is going to take up some more space. Before you know it you are looking at a 30'+ bus just to get everything you need inside.



You can save some space by hanging hammocks across the center aisle if you don't mind your kids rebelling after a short period of time. Sleeping in a hammock can get old really quickly, even when you are young.
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:43 AM   #11
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TBH I think you're going to be hard pressed to find satisfaction in a skoolie at all. If you're in a 30-foot trailer now you're not gaining anything in the transition. The maximum size of a school bus is 40-foot long and 8-foot wide (versus 8-ft 6-in wide prolly in your trailer) and even in a rear engine model you deduct engine compartment and front entry/driver area you're back down to ~32-foot usable length. Narrower body, lower ceiling, I suspect in general not a net gain.

Now aside from that, if you do plan on wanting to do more in-city driving, I think a flat-nose front engine is preferable. It'll be a long body but the shortest wheelbase giving you better maneuverability in city streets. Just watch out for all that overhang behind the rear wheels when it counterswings that you don't start taking out signs, cars, etc. The trick is that because this is the popular city bus configuration, they are also usually spec'd accordingly and that means underpowered and probably not geared for highways. They're also quite 'fun' to drive at highway speeds because of the bouncy roller-coaster-like quality so plan on some motion sickness.

I hope this helps and please keep us informed how things go for you.
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Old 02-05-2020, 08:36 AM   #12
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The trick is that because this is the popular city bus configuration, they are also usually spec'd accordingly and that means underpowered and probably not geared for highways. They're also quite 'fun' to drive at highway speeds because of the bouncy roller-coaster-like quality so plan on some motion sickness.
That part isn't necessarily true. All or most school buses that are used solely for trips are flatnose to maximize seating capacity and are equipped with the higher end transmissions for highway driving.

As for the motion sickness I didn't experience any but I've been driving All Americans as a job for the last 6 years but I recall when I first started driving them it took maybe a day to get used to it. The extra visibility is nice especially in city driving.
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Old 02-05-2020, 08:48 AM   #13
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That part isn't necessarily true. All or most school buses that are used solely for trips are flatnose to maximize seating capacity and are equipped with the higher end transmissions for highway driving.

As for the motion sickness I didn't experience any but I've been driving All Americans as a job for the last 6 years but I recall when I first started driving them it took maybe a day to get used to it. The extra visibility is nice especially in city driving.
I would think that field trip buses would be the rear engine models but yes you are correct they are usually stronger and larger capacity. I was speaking mainly of the flat nose front-engine buses which I know are very popular in Indianapolis for maneuvering in smaller streets.
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Old 02-05-2020, 10:02 AM   #14
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I would think that field trip buses would be the rear engine models but yes you are correct they are usually stronger and larger capacity. I was speaking mainly of the flat nose front-engine buses which I know are very popular in Indianapolis for maneuvering in smaller streets.
In Wisconsin lots of the districts/contractors in the bigger cities like Madison and Milwaukee actually use conventionals since they're cheaper to buy than flatnose. Lots of the inner city schools don't have a lot of money to spend on the transportation budget so they end up ordering the cheapest spec buses available.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:41 PM   #15
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We got scammed on the trailer. It had massive water damaged that they covered up by building in furniture and fake ceiling vents. It's making us all sick and we have to get out of it as soon as we get the money in a few weeks. It's not even an option. Right now we are setup in a trailer that was only one bedroom. We essentially had to rip out everything but the two foot long kitchen counter to fit enough beds for everyone. Which is of course how we found out they covered the water damage/mold.

I think what I've settled on is a smaller medium bus (hammocks for kids, or just narrow bunks across the back since they are young and it's temporary) for the short term, then a 40' bus in the longer term. Not the most ideal to do two but since I will be by myself for a bit with no tow car I think that's what we work best for me. The trailer is only slightly wider than a bus. We do have a large slide and a small one, but they leak like a sieve. I'm not going anywhere near slides again in my life. I'm not at all intimidated by lower ceilings and narrower walls. The setup we are in has a horrible layout. And trailers are so expensive these days I could never afford one new enough to not worry about starting with a ton of existing problems.

I've spent all of my children's entire childhoods (my oldest two who don't live with me are 21, 19) not able to afford to do anything with them. Not vacations, not the zoo, nothing. This is a way we can live, and explore, and have experiences in life, using the same money we were spending just sitting in a house not able to go anywhere. I think it's a richer life, even if from a smaller place.

Since we spend more of our time outside when we are in nice weather it really doesn't feel as small as you'd think it would.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:58 PM   #16
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I think that would make a much more rounded person seeing the world up close and personal. We all get stuck in a rut and never get to experience enough life. I went to 12 years of Catholic school in the 60's and it was just a slice of middle class, pretty isolated.

As far as a bus, go for it, think about how much you will learn, get those kids to help, they may just find a trade in all of that. Forget college, the blue collar trades are taking off. A lot of union guys are making six figures at an early age.
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Old 02-07-2020, 12:07 AM   #17
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I took six kids for a month long trip in my 40' bus. We had a ball! It was an awesome trip. I would do it again in a heartbeat but I think that I would want a 45" bus.....

I was on the road full time before we had the Internet information resources that we have today so, in my ignorance, I visited numerous national parks in my 40' bus. Nobody told me that I couldn't do I did. The only problem that I recall was at Yellowstone. There are a couple of tunnels that I was too tall (13'6") for. That did keep me from visiting portions of the park.

Another option for the kids is bunk beds. A member here managed to build usable bunks three high. That may make it a bit easier to fit the crew.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:33 AM   #18
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Another option for the kids is bunk beds. A member here managed to build usable bunks three high.
It seems like that would be impossible without having less than 2' of headroom per bunk. Just don't wake up suddenly, I guess.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:13 AM   #19
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It seems like that would be impossible without having less than 2' of headroom per bunk. Just don't wake up suddenly, I guess.
I think that he raised his roof.
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:48 AM   #20
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Since keeping the trailer is a non-starter then looking for a bus is probably a pretty good idea. Finding one that has already been converted might actually be a better idea for you.


Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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